Durango-La Plata County Airport will receive $3 million in federal stimulus funding to improve a parking area used by general aviation aircraft.
The area, known as the "apron," will be repaved this summer, said Ron Dent, the airport's director of aviation.
"It is definitely shovel-ready and it will be constructed this summer," Dent said. "We had all the components ready. ... We just didn't have the money."
The federal funding moves up the project, which probably would not have been completed until 2011 without it, Dent said.
The Federal Aviation Administration received $1.1 billion from the stimulus bill, formally called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, to spread to airports across the country. Colorado Springs Municipal airport will receive $6.3 million to rehabilitate its taxiway. Arizona airports will receive more than $28 million.
Dent said he will begin advertising for bids Sunday.
Durango-La Plata County Airport's apron is 1,700 feet long by 250 feet wide. Cracks snake across the surface.
"The pavement is so brittle that it's literally failing," Dent said.
The subsurface remains in good shape, he said. Airport workers have to frequently vacuum the area to keep foreign objects from damaging aircraft.
"This will cure that problem," Dent said.
Corporate jets, air freight, air ambulances, military aircraft and general aviation aircraft use the apron. The project also will add lighting fixtures and reconstruct the road connecting the commercial aircraft apron to the general parking area.
"Getting a brand new ramp will be very nice and will make everybody very happy," said Bill Frame, general manager of the Durango Jet Center.
Frame said jet owners sometimes complain about loose gravel, which can damage jet engines.
U.S. Rep. John Salazar, D-Manassa, said in a news release that the funding will "help the Durango-La Plata County Airport continue to provide safe and efficient air service for La Plata County and the entire Southwest region."
In addition to Salazar, Colorado's Democratic senators Michael Bennet and Mark Udall supported the federal legislation.
The airport has several other projects planned this summer. Roads around the airport will be repaved, and the taxiway will be extended.
"We're trying to keep normal operations going through all of it," Dent said.
The airport's passenger numbers increased 35 percent in March from the same month in 2008.